Sunday, July 27, 2014

Byzantine: 7th Sunday after Pentecost (7/27/14)

Only one set of readings for this week!

Apostol: Romans 15:1-7

Gospel: Matthew 9:27-35

Apostol

The theme of this week's epistle reading is the harmony that ought to prevail among believers. We ought to make sacrifices for one another in order to maintain this harmony. Factions among Christians are an outrage and scandal, and we ought to do whatever we can to prevent them.

Let's look at parish life. Is our parish life so structured that an outsider, on entering and seeing our behavior towards one another, will see that he is among the descendants of those who "devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42 RSV-CE, emphasis mine)? Or will our visitor see a group of people who come together, sing a few beautiful songs, and then fall to squabbling like the pagans do?

On the flip side, would an outsider come and see only the fellowship? Sure, we should build relationships with our fellow parishioners. But if that's all we're doing, what's the point? I could go to any number of other places and find friendship just as easily (perhaps more easily). We must not lose sight of God in all this!

But then suppose that a parish is full of infighting and factions and all the other tools of the devil. What then? Is that an excuse to call it quits? By no means! On the contrary, that makes it all the more important that we try to reconcile the combatants by whatever means are prudent. And it only takes one person to get the ball rolling.

Gospel

The blind men show us something that we might not like to hear: sometimes we have to wait before the Lord does what we ask. Christ acted fairly quickly in the stories leading up to this, but now He waits, going home with the blind men following Him (the All-Seeing One leading the blind, cf. Matt 15:14). Here we see that we must be patient and persistent in following the Lord.

The healing of the mute man may be summarized as: "Haters gonna hate." Seriously. Christ gives this demon the boot, and the crowds are like "Aww yeah," but the Pharisees are like "meh." The Pharisees missed the obvious: God was at work here! How often do we miss the obvious, mistaking the hand of God for that of Satan?

Next Week

Tune in next week for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost!


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